Top 30 Songs of 2008 - Part Three
10. Vic Chesnutt, Elf Power And The Amorphous Strums: 'And How'
Vic Chesnutt teams up with Elf Power for a song that pitches the listener an absurdist curveball. An urban fairytale, complete with nursery rhyme jauntiness that leaves one just as confused about its subject matter as its possible to be. Catchy hell it is too.
9. Jonquil: 'The Weight Of Lying On Your Back'
Sometimes songs are just so perfectly conceived, so full of energy and excitement that you can't help but surf the surge of joy that wells up every time you hear them. This is one of those songs. A cracking tune and a band to watch.
8. Grouper: 'Heavy Water / I'd Rather Be Sleeping'
I'm a huge fan of delay and reverb, especially when it's so deftly controlled as it is here. In fact, this song is so beautiful and finely spun that to say any thing more would run the risk of destroying the delicate magic that holds it together.
7. High Places: ' From Stardust To Sentience'
A band well and truly of their time and all the better for it. We're now at the point where skillful practitioners of the form, like Rob Barber and Mary Pearson, can not only make the machines talk and sing but breath too.
6. One More Grain: 'Jon Hassellhoff'
I wasn't in this band when they recorded this song, but when I heard it I knew I had to join. The marriage of Daniel Patrick Quinn's thick freeform thought soup and Andrew Blick's fine eerie trumpet drone and call. The rhythm section is excellent too. It's a shame that the band is no more, but this song will always sound this way, and that's the important thing. It's pretty much the only thing I care about.
5. Sigur Ros: 'Goobledigook'
By far and away the best song that Sigur Ros have ever written, as swirling, tempestuous and invigorating as the wind that blows in off the North Atlantic to torment the Icelandic people.
4. The New Year: 'The Company I Can Get'
This was the year I woke up and realised I don't want my musical heroes to be drug-adled stargazy waifs anymore - I want them to be learned men, men who've seen life and what it's got to give. Maybe they could even be history professors, then I'd really respect them.
3. Wild Beasts: 'His Grinning Skull'
The one truly exciting British band to emerge this year, and one with more than a whiff of The Smiths stately otherworldly poise. Not that the Beasts sounded like anything other than themselves, you understand. Thrillingly original and willfully obtuse at times. I saw them live more times than I can remember and was consistently flawed. Cheers to you, chaps!
2. Animal Collective: 'Street Flash'
Their alchemistic fingerprints were everywhere this year, and not just on their own record: the 'Water Curses' EP. But it was this release that contained their finest work to date. 'Street Flash' feels like the distillation of what this band have always promised, a swirling dayglow psychedelic masterpiece that's as accessible and welcoming as it is playful and interesting.
1. Destroyer: 'Shooting Rockets (From The Desk Of Night's Ape)'
From the moment 'Trouble In Dreams' arrived in the bleak tail end of winter there was something about this song that perfectly encapsulated 2008; the financial crisis, the end of decadence, even the sickening Chinese Olympic fervour was somehow conjured. It's the sound of something huge and overblown collapsing and falling in on itself and a song so huge and nebulous that I was lost in it for weeks. A masterfully arch piece of work that turned summer breeze into an ill wind.
"It's a terrible feast we've been stuffing our faces on..."